System or Atom?

I was very excited to see this book recommended to me, as I have been thinking along these lines for a while now. I agree with Richard Cronin’s critique of much of evangelical assessment of Rome. It is too atomistic. It has a tendency to miss the forest for the trees. It argues about admittedly centrally important issues without, however, getting at what makes Catholicism Catholicism. I also have a hunch that this might be behind Bryan Cross’s repeated charges of begging the question. Because the hermeneutical, systemic, presuppositional issues have not been dealt with yet, it is somewhat futile to argue about individual issues. Now, it is not entirely fruitless. There are still aspects of the argument concerning justification, say, that can be addressed without reference to the system as a whole (I think in particular of the exegetical questions). However, this kind of critique will always run the risk of distortion. According to the description of the book (I haven’t read it yet, but hope to soon), the systemic issues concentrate on nature-grace and on ecclesiology. I wonder at this point what he means by “ecclesiological self-understanding.” I think that this could be a very helpful way of describing the center, as long as it does not leave out what Barron calls his incarnational understanding of the church. I also wonder how he will argue that the nature-grace issue is a systemic issue, and not simply another issue in a long list of issues. I guess I will just have to read the book and find out. To my Roman Catholic readers, how would you describe the centrality of Roman Catholicism? And where have you found the best descriptions of that centrality? Would you agree with Barron, for instance?

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87 Comments

  1. Pete Holter said,

    December 3, 2012 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Green Baggins!

    I would say that what Catholics need to become known for as central to our faith is bearing total witness to Jesus. Here are some thoughts from Pope Benedict that speak of what is central to Catholicism for me

    “The mission entrusted to [bishops] as teachers of the faith consists in recalling, in the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, that our Saviour ‘desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth’ (1 Tim 2:4). This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church: the salvation of individual souls. For this reason the Father sent his Son” (Address in Brazil, 5/11/07).

    “ ‘If you have wisdom, may you understand that you have been created for the glory of God and for your eternal salvation. This is your goal, this is the centre of your soul, this the treasure of your heart. Therefore consider as truly good for you what leads you to your goal, and truly evil what causes you to miss it. The wise person must not seek felicitous or adverse events, wealth or poverty, health or sickness, honours or offences, life or death. They are good and desirable only if they contribute to the glory of God and to your eternal happiness, they are evil and to be avoided if they hinder it’ (De ascensione mentis in Deum, grad. 1)” (General Audience on Saint Robert Bellarmine [quoting him], 2/23/11).

    “The centre of existence … is faith in Jesus, it is the encounter with Christ.

    “We too ask: ‘what must we do to have eternal life?’. And Jesus says: ‘believe in me’. Faith is the fundamental thing. It is not a matter here of following an idea or a project, but of encountering Jesus as a living Person, of letting ourselves be totally involved by him and by his Gospel. Jesus invites us not to stop at the purely human horizon and to open ourselves to the horizon of God, to the horizon of faith. He demands a single act: to accept God’s plan, namely, to ‘believe in him whom he has sent’…

    “Jesus, the true bread of life that satisfies our hunger for meaning and for truth, cannot be ‘earned’ with human work; he comes to us only as a gift of God’s love, as a work of God to be asked for and received…

    “I pray that your stay in Rome will help you to grow closer to the Lord Jesus. In today’s Gospel he says to the people: ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, whoever believes in me will never thirst’. Let us put our faith in him, and let us put our trust in his promises, so that we may have life in abundance. May God bless you all!” (Angelus, 8/5/12)

    “Following Jesus means taking up one’s cross and walking in his footsteps, along a difficult path which leads not to earthly power or glory but, if necessary, to self-abandonment, to losing one’s life for Christ and the Gospel in order to save it. We are assured that this is the way to the resurrection, to true and definitive life with God. Choosing to walk in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, who made himself the Servant of all, requires drawing ever closer to him, attentively listening to his word and drawing from it the inspiration for all that we do. In promulgating the Year of Faith, which is due to begin next 11 October, I wanted each member of the faithful to renew his or her commitment to undertaking this path of sincere conversion. Throughout this Year, then, I strongly encourage you to reflect more deeply on the faith, to appropriate it ever more consciously and to grow in fidelity to Christ Jesus and his Gospel” (Homily, 9/16/12).

    “The Church’s task is to evangelize, to proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ. … All people have a right to know Jesus Christ and his Gospel: and Christians, all Christians — priests, religious and lay faithful — have a corresponding duty to proclaim the Good News” (Homily, 10/28/12).

    “God’s initiative always precedes any action of man, and even in the journey towards Him, it is He who first enlightens us, guides us and leads us, always respecting our freedom. And it is always He who allows us enter into His intimacy, revealing and gifting Himself us the grace to be able to welcome this revelation in faith. Let us never forget the experience of St. Augustine: it is not we who seek or possess the Truth, but the Truth that seeks us out and possesses us.

    “[C]ertain widespread mentalities make it increasingly difficult for the Church and the Christian to communicate the joy of the Gospel to all creatures and all lead to an encounter with Jesus, the one Saviour of the world. This, however, is our mission, the mission of the Church. And every believer must live it joyfully, feeling it to be his or her own, through a life truly animated by faith, marked by charity, service to God and to others, and capable of radiating hope. This mission shines above all in the holiness to which all are called…

    “Today many have a limited understanding of the Christian faith, because they identify it with a mere system of beliefs and values and not so much with the truth of God revealed in history, eager to communicate with man face to face, in a relationship of love with Him. In fact, the foundation of every doctrine or value is the event of the encounter between man and God in Christ Jesus. Christianity, before being a moral or ethical value, is the experience of love, of welcoming the person of Jesus. For this reason, the Christian and Christian communities must first look to and help others to look to Christ, the true path that leads to God” (General Audience, 11/14/12).

    Alongside an “incarnational understanding of the church,” I think that we Catholics need to really emphasize and bring about a “profess-ional understanding of the church.” We need to reclaim our identity as those who bear verbal witness to Jesus and to His Gospel as lights shining “in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation” (Philippians 2:15). Hopefully this will result in our appropriating a balanced, incarnational-professional understanding of the Church, and in our living out a gospel-centered walk before God, as Pope Paul VI exhorted us to in Evangelii Nuntiandi:

    “Above all the Gospel must be proclaimed by witness… [by radiating] in an altogether simple and unaffected way their faith in values that go beyond current values, and their hope in something that is not seen and that one would not dare to imagine. [A] wordless witness… which involves presence, sharing, solidarity, and which is an essential element, and generally the first one, in evangelization. All Christians are called to this witness, and in this way they can be real evangelizers… Nevertheless this always remains insufficient, because even the finest witness will prove ineffective in the long run if it is not explained, justified — what Peter called always having ‘your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you all have’ — and made explicit by a clear and unequivocal proclamation of the Lord Jesus. The Good News proclaimed by the witness of life sooner or later has to be proclaimed by the word of life. There is no true evangelization if the Name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God are not proclaimed.”

    I am grateful that this specific admonition and exhortation was reiterated in Benedict XVI’s recent Apostolic Exhortations, Verbum Domini and Africae Munus. May we continue to be invigorated to bear full-witness to our friendship with Jesus Christ our Savior during this year of faith. And may God keep us faithful.

    Thanks for asking.

    In Christ,
    Pete

  2. Dennis said,

    December 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Lane,

    how would you describe the centrality of Roman Catholicism? And where have you found the best descriptions of that centrality?

    For me, the centrality of Catholicism is Jesus Christ. Everything about the Church, everything it does and says points to Jesus Christ.

    I don’t think the Church is too atomistic. I think that some of the on-line apologists (myself included) can get tied up into the minutia and can sometimes overlook the big picture (which is Jesus Christ). It’s not about justification, eschatology, salvation, liturgy or even sacraments…yes, all of those are important; however, the key to everything is Jesus Christ. Without Jesus Christ, the whole thing does not make sense. It’s all just empty words.

    For me, the best description of that centrality can be found in Lumen Gentium Chapter I on the mystery of the Church:

    http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19641121_lumen-gentium_en.html

    In LG, it explains the mission of the Church which is namely, “that all men, joined more closely today by various social, technical and cultural ties, might also attain fuller unity in Christ.” (LG1)

    It continues to explain the relationship between Christ and the Church.

  3. sean said,

    December 3, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    The centrality of Rome is found in the priesthood and sacerdotal system. Rome is primarily organized for this function. It is not primarily a ‘word-based’ or catechetically oriented religious expression.

  4. greenbaggins said,

    December 3, 2012 at 6:04 pm

    Dennis, thanks for your comments. I do want to point out however, that I was referring to evangelical critiques of RC as being too atomistic, not RC itself.

    Pete and Dennis, it is very common to say that Jesus is central. But how is He central? Is one aspect of His life more central than other aspects? Barron seems to imply, for instance, that the incarnation, as extended throughout the church, is the genius of Catholicism. Do you agree with Barron?

  5. Ron said,

    December 3, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    I don’t think the Church is too atomistic. I think that some of the on-line apologists (myself included) can get tied up into the minutia and can sometimes overlook the big picture (which is Jesus Christ). It’s not about justification, eschatology, salvation, liturgy or even sacraments…yes, all of those are important; however, the key to everything is Jesus Christ.

    Dennis,

    We must be careful about over simplifying things or creating a false dichotomy between Chris and salvation etc. Obviously we all agree that one may not separate the person and work of Christ from justification and salvation. In the like manner, the liturgy and sacraments are not in accordance with God’s word, then what sort of Christ is being taught?

    Regarding eschatology…

    Eschatology goes beyond postmil-amil debates. Serious Christians should ask, what is the main focus of Paul’s soteriology, redemption-accomplished or applied? Well, is it the gospel or conversion? Coming at this from a slightly different angle – Who is the central actor in the drama of redemption, the Holy Spirit or the Christ in whom the Holy Spirit unites sinners?

    Clearly the gospel is the central theme of the New Testament and consequently Paul’s theology. In particular, that Christ is raised from the dead, with all its implications, is the primary message of Paul. Naturally, therefore, when it comes to the application of redemption, Paul doesn’t abandon his teaching on the resurrection in order to preach conversion. Rather, Paul turns our attention to the reality of the believer’s existential union with the resurrected and ascended Crucified One. {Unless there is serious error that must be corrected (e.g. Corinth; Galatia) Paul’s emphasis is not on how one appropriates Christ but rather on the ramifications of being in Christ already (Ephesians).}

    Not justification through faith alone (through an alien righteousness) but intimate union with Christ, which envelopes the glorious reality of justification, is Paul’s message to the church. Properly understood, it is all the benefits in this life that proceed from effectual calling, as identified in a sound formulation of the ordo salutis, Paul has in view when he expounds redemption-applied; not in some atomistic, compartmentalized sense but in all its fullness, occurring all at once through one baptism into Christ.

    The picture Paul paints is as poetic as it is profound. Notwithstanding, certainly Paul distinguishes (for instance) sanctification from justification but he never separates the two from union with the resurrected and ascended Christ. It is because of this, I believe, that Paul does not detract from the eschatological implications and sheer profundity of the believer’s participation in the first resurrection and age to come. It’s not that Paul was not a systematic theologian. He was. Yet Paul had a more pressing message to deliver, from which other theological intricacies can (and should) be derived, but never at the expense of laying hold of the already-not yet reality in Christ that is so prominent in Paul’s soteriology.

    We can safely say that Paul’s soteriology is eschatological in nature, for when was the new age inaugurated but at the resurrection Accordingly, when one is united to Christ by the instrument of faith, he is united with the firstborn from the dead, thereby entering into the new creation – Christ’s body, the church. When the many brothers are raised in Christ (separated by time in a single harvest), they are made partakers of the new age not only in and through but with Christ their brother, Lord and forerunner. Accordingly, Paul does not see glorification as the only aspect of the believer’s eschatological-salvation. Rather, Paul sees the entire process of salvation (and it is a process!), as entering into and living within the already inaugurated age that awaits its final consummation in Christ, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

    Without Jesus Christ, the whole thing does not make sense. It’s all just empty words.

    Yes,empty words indeed if we separate all those things from Christ, or Christ from all those things. That’s my story and I’m stickin’ to it. :)

  6. Pete Holter said,

    December 3, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Hi Lane and Dennis!

    “For me, the centrality of Catholicism is Jesus Christ. Everything about the Church, everything it does and says points to Jesus Christ.”

    Yes! As Pope Benedict wrote,

    “Every element of the Church’s structure is important, yet all of them would falter and crumble without the cornerstone who is Christ” (Address in Sydney, 7/18/08).

    “This is the task of all Peter’s Successors: to be the guide in the profession of faith in Christ, Son of the living God. The Chair of Rome is above all the Seat of this belief. From high up on this Chair the Bishop of Rome is constantly bound to repeat: Dominus Iesus—‘Jesus is Lord,’ as Paul wrote in his Letters to the Romans (10: 9) and to the Corinthians (I Cor 12: 3)… The Bishop of Rome sits upon the Chair to bear witness to Christ” (Homily, 5/7/05).

    Concerning the extension of the Incarnation through space and time via the Church by the power of the Spirit: Jesus being made present to us in the proclamation of the word and celebration of the sacraments, in the person of the priest and in the person of the poor… all of this does seem to be successfully highlighted in Catholicism. Even our bodily postures during the Mass highlight the centrality of His Incarnation in that we kneel (or, in the Latin Mass, we genuflect) at the point in the creed where we confess of Jesus, “and by the Holy Spirit [He] was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.” In the low form of the Latin Mass, we also read from John 1 after each Mass, and we all genuflect again at the point where we read, “And the Word became flesh.”

    Our doctrine concerning the Eucharist as sacrament via transubstantiation also highlights the Incarnation of Christ being extended throughout the Church: “Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread” (1 Cor. 10:17). This extension of the incarnation through the Church and throughout the Church age was significantly highlighted by Augustine when he wrote of the whole Christ: the Person of our Saviour being the Head, the Church being the body.

    “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these My brothers, you did it to Me” (Matthew 25:40).

    “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” (Acts 9:4)

    John Bugay is concerned about pantheistic notions creeping into Catholicism, and this type of identification of Christ with His Church can lead to misunderstandings. So I think that it is also important for us to point out in this regard that “between creator and creature there can be noted no similarity so great that a greater dissimilarity cannot be seen between them” (Fourth Lateran Council).

    I don’t have Father Barron’s book and haven’t read it. I doubt I’d disagree with him though if I was able to read his points (although I won’t be watching 95% of the movies he watches. Ha, ha.).

    In terms of the central aspects of His life, the Incarnation does seem to be the greatest miracle performed on our behalf; but we also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that the Incarnation is itself orientated towards the Paschal Mystery. The Catechism lists the Incarnation, Paschal Mystery, and Glorification as “the chief mysteries” of the life of Christ (CCC 429); further divides the Paschal Mystery into His “passion, crucifixion, death, burial, descent into hell, resurrection and ascension”; and says that “ ‘All that Jesus did and taught, from the beginning until the day when he was taken up to heaven,’ is to be seen in the light of the mysteries of Christmas and Easter” (CCC 512). Within the Paschal Mystery itself, attention is drawn to the principal mysteries of Christ’s death and resurrection:

    “The Paschal mystery of Christ’s cross and Resurrection stands at the center of the Good News that the apostles, and the Church following them, are to proclaim to the world. God’s saving plan was accomplished ‘once for all’ by the redemptive death of his Son Jesus Christ…

    “The Paschal mystery has two aspects: by his death, Christ liberates us from sin; by his Resurrection, he opens for us the way to a new life. This new life is above all justification that reinstates us in God’s grace, ‘so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.’ Justification consists in both victory over the death caused by sin and a new participation in grace” (CCC 571, 654).

    Hey Lane, one of my favorite homilies from the pope comes from the most recent World Youth Day. I’m sorry for the length, but I’m excited to share some of these thoughts. It seems to fit in with this topic of the centrality of Christ in the life of the Church:

    “Faith is more than just empirical or historical facts; it is an ability to grasp the mystery of Christ’s person in all its depth.

    “Yet faith is not the result of human effort, of human reasoning, but rather a gift of God…. Faith starts with God, who opens his heart to us and invites us to share in his own divine life. Faith does not simply provide information about who Christ is; rather, it entails a personal relationship with Christ, a surrender of our whole person, with all our understanding, will and feelings, to God’s self-revelation…

    And, since faith involves following the Master, it must become constantly stronger, deeper and more mature, to the extent that it leads to a closer and more intense relationship with Jesus…

    Say to [Jesus]: “Jesus, I know that you are the Son of God, who have given your life for me. I want to follow you faithfully and to be led by your word. You know me and you love me. I place my trust in you and I put my whole life into your hands. I want you to be the power that strengthens me and the joy which never leaves me”.

    “Jesus responds to Peter’s confession by speaking of the Church: ‘And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church’. What do these words mean? Jesus builds the Church on the rock of the faith of Peter, who confesses that Christ is God.

    “The Church, then, is not simply a human institution, like any other. Rather, she is closely joined to God. Christ himself speaks of her as ‘his’ Church. Christ cannot be separated from the Church any more than the head can be separated from the body (cf. 1 Cor 12:12). The Church does not draw her life from herself, but from the Lord.

    “Dear young friends, as the Successor of Peter, let me urge you to strengthen this faith which has been handed down to us from the time of the Apostles. Make Christ, the Son of God, the centre of your life. But let me also remind you that following Jesus in faith means walking at his side in the communion of the Church. We cannot follow Jesus on our own. Anyone who would be tempted to do so ‘on his own’, or to approach the life of faith with a kind of individualism so prevalent today, will risk never truly encountering Jesus, or will end up following a counterfeit Jesus.

    “… I ask you, dear friends, to love the Church which brought you to birth in the faith, which helped you to grow in the knowledge of Christ and which led you to discover the beauty of his love. Growing in friendship with Christ necessarily means recognizing the importance of joyful participation in the life of your parishes, communities and movements, as well as the celebration of Sunday Mass, frequent reception of the sacrament of Reconciliation, and the cultivation of personal prayer and meditation on God’s word.

    “Friendship with Jesus will also lead you to bear witness to the faith wherever you are, even when it meets with rejection or indifference. We cannot encounter Christ and not want to make him known to others. So do not keep Christ to yourselves! Share with others the joy of your faith” (Homily, 8/21/11).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  7. Dennis said,

    December 3, 2012 at 10:40 pm

    Lane,

    Thanks for the clarification. I misread the post.

    Barron seems to imply, for instance, that the incarnation, as extended throughout the church, is the genius of Catholicism. Do you agree with Barron?

    There is a lot of depth to that statement and I haven’t quite heard it put that way but yes, I agree with Barron. It’s at the incarnation that the Trinity is revealed to the world. At the incarnation…at Mary’s Fiat, God participates with man to save mankind. It’s at the Incarnation that God the Son saves Man. After that, the rest was inevitable. Once Mary said, “Yes” the crucifixion and resurrection were destined to occur. At the Incarnation, man was first united to Christ. Mary is the model, the first Christian as she first had Christ inside her. Now, we as Christians say “Yes” to God and have Christ inside us shining as lights to a dark world.

    it is very common to say that Jesus is central. But how is He central? Is one aspect of His life more central than other aspects?

    For the Church, the source and summit, the center of the Church is the Eucharist. It’s Christ Himself that is at the center. It’s the word made flesh. In our liturgy, we celebrate the Word and the Eucharist together and we assemble together to worship Him at the One Sacrifice.

    Christ is central in the sacrament of the Eucharist. With every mass, we are brought back to Calvary to witness the one sacrifice and unite ourselves to Him. We assent to everything Christ is when we participate and the Church truly becomes one Body of Christ.

  8. Pete Holter said,

    December 3, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    “we kneel… at the point in the creed where we confess of Jesus, ‘and by the Holy Spirit [He] was incarnate of the Virgin Mary, and became man.’ ”

    I’m sorry, I meant to say that we bow at this point. :)

    In Christ,
    Pete

  9. Dennis said,

    December 3, 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Ron,

    We must be careful about over simplifying things or creating a false dichotomy between Christ and salvation etc. Obviously we all agree that one may not separate the person and work of Christ from justification and salvation. In the like manner, the liturgy and sacraments are not in accordance with God’s word, then what sort of Christ is being taught?

    Are you the same Ron from the last post? This was a good comment and I’m not seeing much of anything you wrote I disagree with.

    Yes, I don’t want to oversimplify things and I’m not trying to create a false dichotomy between Christ and anything else. What I’m saying is that all of it points to Christ. It’s Christ as you said that we are united to.

    In regards to your questions concerning eschatology:

    what is the main focus of Paul’s soteriology, redemption-accomplished or applied? Well, is it the gospel or conversion? Coming at this from a slightly different angle – Who is the central actor in the drama of redemption, the Holy Spirit or the Christ in whom the Holy Spirit unites sinners?

    It seems like this is one of those false dichotomies and the answer should be both to all of them.

  10. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 3, 2012 at 11:47 pm

    I agree with Richard Cronin’s critique of much of evangelical assessment of Rome. It is too atomistic.

    My perception is that this is true of the congregants and pastors in even most Reformed churches. The arguments of the Called to Communion crowd which are driven by the larger paradigmatic and philosophical issues are targeted at what seems to me to be a very small group of people. Even in the Reformed churches I would say that there are few folks who have firstly the interest and second the theological/philosophical sophistication to respond to the arguments that Bryan Cross and friends are putting out.

    According to the description of the book (I haven’t read it yet, but hope to soon), the systemic issues concentrate on nature-grace and on ecclesiology.

    Nature-grace is definitely an important entry on the list of big picture paradigm driven debates between Catholics and Protestants, but I think I would replace it with that of philosophy of revelation if I had to pick two such topics to deal with. Ecclesiology would stay.

  11. Ron said,

    December 4, 2012 at 6:33 am

    Hi Dennis,

    Yes, same Ron as other thread.

    I wrote above: “what is the main focus of Paul’s soteriology, redemption-accomplished or applied? Well, is it the gospel or conversion? Coming at this from a slightly different angle – Who is the central actor in the drama of redemption, the Holy Spirit or the Christ in whom the Holy Spirit unites sinners?”

    To which you replied: “It seems like this is one of those false dichotomies and the answer should be both to all of them.”

    Please keep in mind we’re talking “main focus” not whether both are truths that have their place. Conversion occurs through the preaching of the cross. Yet so many evangelical pastors, even in Reformed settings, preach decision and conversion, imperative without indicative.

    The apostle preached Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness. It is the preaching of the cross that is foolishness to those that perish, but to us who are saved it is the power of God. It is the preaching of the cross, not conversion that will destroy the wisdom of the wise and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. God has made foolish the wisdom of this world – both to those who require a sign and those who seek after wisdom, which is why the cross is a stumbling block and foolishness to the world. But to us who are being saved the cross is the power and wisdom of God.

    This is why the Eastern church will focus more on Easter than Pentecost. And Rome the mass than baptism. It’s the finished work of Christ that has primary place in God’s word and the church, not conversion or regeneration. The former begets the latter.

  12. Richard Cronin said,

    December 4, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    Here’s a small overview of Mr Chirico’s book. http://www.e-n.org.uk/p-2576-Evangelical-theological-perspectives-on-post-Vatican-II-Roman-Catholicism.htm

    Did you manage to get your hands on a review somewhere else or is it by coincidence that you use the very word he uses “atomised” in critique or Evangelical critiques.

    Andrew: I’ve thought the very same thing. I’m in seminary at the moment and I realised a while ago that no-one came to catholic-protestant issues with the same epistemological questions that Mr Cross and Mr Liccione are raising. I even asked our systematic professor and I’m not entirely sure he grasped what I was trying to put to him- mind you I didn’t explain it so well either…
    I must admit that I have granted at least the premise that they are putting forward that there is a difference between the assent of faith and the assent of opinion. Have i conceded too much here? Regarding the fact that few reformed types are talking about these issues – who is? where are they?

  13. Brad B said,

    December 4, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    “Nature-grace is definitely an important entry on the list of big picture paradigm driven debates between Catholics and Protestants,”

    Hi Andrew, your comment here quoted reminded me of a question I remember asking in my early days of internet/forum/blog reading and posting questions. Even back when Ligonier.org had a large forum, I couldn’t get an answer. I think I know the answer now, but I would hope to maybe get your or other’s input. It had to do with two pretty prominent Reformed theologians’ radically different views of Aquinas.

    Francis Shaeffer considered him to be nearly the devil incarnate because of his blurring nature/grace. He laid the blame for the decline of culture on Thomas’ feet in his book “Escape From Reason”.

    RC Sproul on the other hand considers Aquinas to be one of the greatest in church history.

    I wonder if it’s due to a presuppositionalist vs evidentialist/classical view of evangelism, but if you or any other could add insight to why these two Protestants had such divergent views in Aquinas, I’d be interested to know what people think. I suspect it is regarding definitions of the terms, whether it is Sproul/Shaeffer or RC/Protestant Define the terms, the same, and agreement would follow.

  14. Brad B said,

    December 4, 2012 at 10:01 pm

    Schaeffer instead of Shaeffer, I dont know why I left out the “c”.

  15. Bob S said,

    December 5, 2012 at 1:52 am

    What is the essence of the Roman system versus the compromised evangelical criticisms of it?

    As per the replies here, it is incarnational/sacramental if not mystical. J. Darby would say sensual.
    Which is ultimately why an appeal or argument from Scripture is shrugged off by our adherents to popery as we seem to see so many times in the discussion.

    (To be sure, one JJS would disagree, but anybody who is trying to find out why the engine won’t start and is hunting around in the chapter of the manual where it talks about how to program the radio/AC/heater in hopes of deducing the paradigm controlling internal combustion engines leaves doubts as to one’s competence, if not credibility WCF 1:9. I mention that because JJS has complained in the past that he is trying to establish romanism biblically.)

    For me, the centrality of Catholicism is Jesus Christ. Everything about the Church, everything it does and says points to Jesus Christ.

    Well yes, but does not Christ himself tell us that there are false Christs? So how does one tell the difference?
    Evidently only the magisterium knows – which is the beauty of implicit faith. Just believe and it will be alright in the end.

    For the Church, the source and summit, the center of the Church is the Eucharist. It’s Christ Himself that is at the center. It’s the word made flesh. In our liturgy, we celebrate the Word and the Eucharist together and we assemble together to worship Him at the One Sacrifice.

    Christ is central in the sacrament of the Eucharist. With every mass, we are brought back to Calvary to witness the one sacrifice and unite ourselves to Him. We assent to everything Christ is when we participate and the Church truly becomes one Body of Christ.

    The Eucharist is the word become flesh and the One sacrifice?!
    It’s all about ‘union, assent, participation, action’?
    The mystical union with Christ in the carnal/visible church via the sacraments resolves all doubts and the just shall walk by sight of Christ in the Eucharist.
    Eventually we end up talking about the True Believer according to Eric Hoffer. Forget Scripture, reason or history. Romanism vaccinates one against all that. (It’s just like swing. If ya gotta ask, ya don’t have it. So sez Pope Louie Armstrong.)

    Now one might think there is some real confusion in substituting the Body for the Head, sight for faith etc. but lets not quibble . .

    12. Richard,
    No one is coming to catholic-protestant issues with the same epistemological questions that Mr Cross and Mr Liccione are raising?

    Pray tell, how different are they from the usual jesuitical blather and skeptical dialectic that only applies to protestantism and not to romanism?

    I am not saying they aren’t, but in all the equivocation and philosophical obscurantism – scholasticism in the bad sense – it’s hard to tell exactly what their position is other than they are right and the you know who’s are wrong.

    13. Brad B,
    I think Sproul’s evidentialism is his achilles heel. Schaeffer’s apologetic was flawed, but more consistent to presuppositionalism.

    Aristotle/Aquinas are fine when it comes to methodology, i.e. scholasticism, but problematic when it comes to doctrine, i.e. defining nature/grace according to natural philosophy/revelation instead of Scripture.

    Just my two sense and edicated gess. Ur milage may very.

  16. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 5, 2012 at 8:34 am

    I must admit that I have granted at least the premise that they are putting forward that there is a difference between the assent of faith and the assent of opinion. Have i conceded too much here?

    Good morning Richard (re: 12),

    I’ve talked with Mike Liccione about his position about differentiating what can be known about God’s revelation from mere opinion. In his mind unless there is an infallible human authority to judge doctrinal matters everything devolves to mere opinion. I think we can and ought to make a distinction between what we can know of God’s revelation to us and what is just opinion, but it’s important to note that “opinion” in the speculative dogmatic system of Rome has a specific denotation, one that we do not share in its entirety. I remember suggesting to Mike that we were not going to get very far without really delving into the historical understanding of “opinion.” It’s been a while and I could be wrong but I don’t think he ever bit on this challenge. Anyway, every time we have talked about it he tells me I’m totally confused about the issue, so apparently I’m incapable of understanding his point!

    Regarding the fact that few reformed types are talking about these issues – who is? where are they?

    Interesting question. I don’t really know. There are apparently a fair amount of folks whose road to Rome was guided to some degree by the folks at CTC. We know a few of them (i.e. Jason Stellman) but for the most part they seems to be random Evangelical laypeople who have experienced some sort of crisis in their faith and then stumbled onto the CTC site or been directed there by a friend. There does not seem to be a systematic study of such things in the Evangelical and Reformed seminaries. There are some blog sites like this one of course and the Turretinfan site. Not sure where else.

  17. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 5, 2012 at 9:19 am

    RC Sproul on the other hand considers Aquinas to be one of the greatest in church history.

    Brad (13),

    Yes, it’s interesting just how much Sproul (as was his mentor Gerstner) is in love with Aquinas. I remember in a debate with Greg Bahnsen some years back that Sproul stressed the importance of developing a system of natural theology that was capable of taking on the philosophical and theological challenges of competing belief systems. To Sproul’s mind the prepositional approach of Bahnsen’s was a cop out that did not deal properly with the world’s many intellectual challenges to Christianity. What was needed was a rigorous philosophical defense of Christianity, and nobody in the history of the Christian Church had attempted such a defense as rigorously as Aquinas. I think that Sproul would say that Thomas developed intellectual tools that were invaluable in the apologetic mission of the Church.

    On the other side of the matter, Schaeffer had developed a unique presuppositional-like set of tools that focused on more challenging non-Christian assumptions by demonstrating the inevitable futility of these assumptions. Schaeffer had little use for the Thomistic methodology that Gerster/Sproul leaned on, and as you point out, he was worried about where (what he perceived to be) the nature/grace dichotomies of Thomas would lead the Church. Or maybe it is more correct to say that he felt that such a system had already lead the Church into thinking in humanistic categories, as evidenced by some of the thinking of the Christian Humanists.

    Sort of a random thought – The first of the Reformed turned Roman Catholic folks I ever heard of was Scott Hahn, who as you may know studied under Sproul at Gordon-Conwell. My theory on Hahn is that Sproul introduced him to Aquinas, and Hahn ran all the way to Rome with it! I may be totally washed up here, but that’s my theory until someone disproves it….

  18. Richard Cronin said,

    December 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Andrew

    Well my take is that once the apostles have all died out the epistemological hole that Liccione et al are worried about is unavoidable. I.e. it’s opinion from there on out. Of course its normed by scripture but it is your opinion of scripture.
    To put it another way when Jesus and the boys were around all one had to do to find out truth was ask them. Ones opinion didnt come into play as you simply did as you were told or believed as you were told- this is the assent of faith.
    Once Jesus and the boys died out this option is unavailable so you are left with the words that they had said. Reading these doesnt give you the assent of faith but only the assent of opinion because you must interpret them. (incidentally i think there might be warrant to see that the early church latched on to this problem by the way in which our earliest non-canonical work is called the acts of the apostles…) Because the CtC crowd see this as a problem they say we need a mechanism that functions in the same way as having Jesus or the apostles around did. I think- that’s a nice idea but nothing says its a necessary idea and I don’t think the evidence is there that it actually happened. That’s where I’m at at the moment.

  19. johnbugay said,

    December 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Lane and all — The Vatican II ecclesiology has its roots in the writings of Johan Adam Mohler, who brought up the notion that the Roman Catholic Church is the “ongoing incarnation of Christ”. This is one source for the notions about panentheism. I’ve responded to Roman Catholics who tell me “the Church is Christ”. It is said to be a Christological rather than a pneumatological view of the Church.

    Richard #18 — Oscar Cullmann pointed to some of the writings of the generations of church leaders after the apostles, and they clearly had a sense that they were not apostles, and had nothing like their authority. So the “mechanism” itself followed some process of “development.”

  20. johnbugay said,

    December 5, 2012 at 2:00 pm

    Regarding their “epistemological certainty”, they are resting not on Scripture, but purely on the authority of the church, as it authorizes some pretty silly concepts.

    This is from a blog post yesterday:

    Aquinas gives this Scriptural proof:

    Whether Sin Diminishes Natural Good
    According to a gloss by another, Bede expounds Luke 10:30 thus:—“A certain man going down from Jerusalem to Jericho (that is, incurring the defect of sin) was stripped of his raiment and wounded in his natural powers.” It follows that sin diminishes the good of nature.

    This is his “Scriptural proof”. In the scholastic method of question, objection, and response, this is the scriptural basis in Roman Catholicism for its doctrine of sin. He continues with the explanation:

    I answer: by natural good we may mean three things. We may mean the constitutive principles of nature itself, together with the properties consequential to them, such as the powers of the soul, and the like. Secondly, we may mean the inclination to virtue. This is a good of nature, since a man possesses it naturally, as we said in Q. 63, Art. I. Thirdly, we may mean the gift of original justice [donum superadditum], which was bestowed on the first man. The constitution of human nature is neither destroyed nor diminished by sin. The gift of original justice was totally lost through the sin of our first parent. The natural inclination to virtue, finally, is diminished by sin. Actions generate an inclination to similar actions, … and the inclination to one or two contraries is bound to be diminished by an inclination to the other. Now sin is the contrary of virtue. The good of nature which consists in the inclination to virtue is therefore bound to be diminished by the very fact that a man sins.

    So we note also that the biblical “proof”, Luke 10:30, is interpreted according to an “allegorical” sense by the English writer Bede. “Going down from Jerusalem to Jericho” is equated with “incurring the defect of sin”, which, according to Luke, means he is “stripped of his raiment and wounded in his natural powers”.

    One may wonder how this conclusion follows from this verse, but such is the foundation of shifting sand upon which the Roman Catholic system rests.

    The dogmatic statements regarding sin, which were formulated at Trent, were taken from this section in Aquinas, who (a) got his vision of the world from Pseudo-Dionysius, and his “scriptural proof” from Bede’s allegorical interpretation of Luke 10:30. From this chain of events, Rome holds that natural man is not dead in sin, but “only wounded”, and from this, very many other things follow.

  21. Richard Cronin said,

    December 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm

    John
    My point re the didache or acts of the apostles is that whoever wrote it realised that they didnt have the same authority as the apostles and that is why (possibly!) they gave it the title they did because only words of the apostles had the authority that was necessary.

  22. Richard Cronin said,

    December 5, 2012 at 3:06 pm

    John have you read “unity in the church” by Mohler? Just curious what you thought.

  23. johnbugay said,

    December 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm

    Richard, I read portions of it, but it’s been a while. I have it at home. I’ll try to get back to you on this tonight or early tomorrow.

  24. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 5, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Well my take is that once the apostles have all died out the epistemological hole that Liccione et al are worried about is unavoidable. I.e. it’s opinion from there on out. Of course its normed by scripture but it is your opinion of scripture.

    Richard (re: 18)

    You are using “opinion” in a different way than I was in my post you responded to. But I think I hear what you are saying and I agree with you – there is always some interpretive framework we bring to the table since we can no longer go right to the source as the Apostles could.

    The philosophically orientated Catholics, like those at CTC, make a distinction between 1) the subjective matter of determining which ecclesiastical entity is the one that Christ founded and 2) the objective matter of allowing the Roman Catholic Magisterium to speak on doctrinal matters. Concerning the later, the RC’s believe they have a teaching authority which can speak infallibly on doctrinal matters, at least on those issues which the RCC has defined as being of a de fide or similar level of certainty. In effect they have access to Jesus because they have access to the successors of the Church that Jesus founded. As you know, for a whole host of reasons, the theory here does not get anywhere close to reality and there is from all I can see every bit as much diversity of belief in Catholicism as there is in Protestantism, but for the small group of conservatives who consistently hold to the theory, there is an objective way to consistently differentiate between revelation and opinion.

    The first matter I mention above, that of determining the nature of the Church that Christ founded, is one in which Catholics are sometimes a little more open to arguments which could in theory falsify their system. It is here where there is a distinct amount of interpretation that comes to bear as the interested inquirer starts to ask what the nature of the Church is and how he can determine what the true Church looks like. Unfortunately, for most of the conservatives, the sole criteria ends up being Apostolic succession. But given this, there seems to me to be two lines of questioning that could be helpful. The first is whether the current Bishop of Rome is really a successor of Peter (ask John B to comment here), and the second is whether there are other factors besides Apostolic succession which should be brought to bear on the question.

    All very interesting stuff….

  25. Pete Holter said,

    December 5, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    “Rome holds that natural man is not dead in sin, but ‘only wounded’, and from this, very many other things follow.”

    Greetings in Christ, John!

    The Catechism points out that original sin is “the ‘death of the soul’ ” (CCC 403 [quoting the Council of Trent, Decree Concerning Original Sin]). And we would also want to look to the Second Council of Orange to help us understand what we hold concerning original sin (cf. CCC 406).

    “In this Psalm we have chiefly exhorted you to do deeds of alms, because it is thence that we ascend; and you see that he who ascends, sings the song of steps. Remember: do not love to descend, instead of to ascend, but reflect upon your ascent: because he who descended from Jerusalem to Jericho fell among thieves. If he had not descended, he would not have fallen among thieves. Adam hath already descended, and fallen among thieves: and we are all Adam. But the priest passed by, and took no notice: the Levite passed by, and took no notice; for the Law could not heal. A certain Samaritan passed by, that is, our Lord Jesus Christ: for unto Him it was said, ‘Say we not well that Thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?’ He replied not, ‘I am not a Samaritan’; but, ‘I have not a devil.’ For the word Samaritan meaneth, a Keeper. If He had said, ‘I am not a Samaritan,’ He would have denied that He was a Guardian. And who else could guard us? Then figuring the likeness: a Samaritan passed by, and had compassion upon him, as ye know. He was lying wounded by the road because he had descended. The Samaritan as He passed by slighted us not: He healed us, He raised us upon His beast, upon His flesh; He led us to the inn, that is, the Church; He entrusted us to the host, that is, to the Apostle; He gave two pence, whereby we might be healed, the love of God, and the love of our neighbor: ‘for on these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.’ He said also unto the host, ‘Whatsoever thou spendest more, when I come again, I will repay thee.’ The Apostle spent more; for, though it was allowed unto all the Apostles to receive, as Christ’s soldiers, pay from Christ’s subjects, that Apostle, nevertheless, toiled with his own hands, and excused the subjects the maintenance owing to him. All this has already happened: if we have descended, and have been wounded; let us ascend, let us sing, and make progress, in order that we may arrive” (Saint Augustine, Exposition on Psalm 126.15).

    With love in Christ,
    Pete

  26. Dennis said,

    December 5, 2012 at 11:08 pm

    Bob 15,

    Well yes, but does not Christ himself tell us that there are false Christs? So how does one tell the difference?

    Yes, there are false Christs. There are people who lead you away from Him and say they are Jesus. There are those who talk about Christ but don’t act as Christians should. We need to discern Christ in everyone. We need to know who is a Christian and who is not. Christ tells us that you know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:15-16) How do they act? How do they treat others? Do they feed the hungry? Do they clothe the naked?

    Is Christ’s love reflected in their words and deeds?

    Those who are in Christ will be saved and those who do not bear fruit will be cut off from the vine. Pruned away to wither and die so that those who are in Christ can bear more fruit. (John 15:1-6)

    Evidently only the magisterium knows – which is the beauty of implicit faith. Just believe and it will be alright in the end.

    My faith in the Church isn’t a blind faith. It’s not just me accepting the claims. The Catholic Church can claim that it is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. They have protected the apostolic teaching from the beginning of time. I can read the early church fathers and still agree with the writings of Athanasius and John Chrysostom. I can read Augustine and fully agree with what he writes. The faith has been handed down from bishop to bishop from the Apostles and the faith has been protected from error.

    I’m not Catholic because it’s easy. It’s very difficult to be Catholic. There are a lot of teachings that are hard to follow. I follow it because of Christ. I follow because it’s true.

  27. Jason Loh said,

    December 6, 2012 at 1:54 am

    Jesus (and the Holy Spirit) and free-will do not mix. If Jesus is central, then there is no free-will.

  28. Bob S said,

    December 6, 2012 at 2:09 am

    In his mind unless there is an infallible human authority to judge doctrinal matters everything devolves to mere opinion.

    Wait, let me guess. In his opinion/in his mind the infallible human authority is . . . umm I give up.
    Who does Mike say it is?

    And does that mean Mike has infallibly recognized the Wizard of Oz for who he really infallibly is? Mega kudos for him. Boy, am I jealous if that is so.

    Come on. Don’t keep us waiting. This chrism of infallibility could sure shut down a lot of the internet debates once and for all.

    Just think of it. The final word. All those prot trolls must be shivering in their crocs. What a bunch of losers. This is going to be really fun. Finally they’re gonna get crushed like they deserve . . . .

    Huh? You’re only gonna give me his email and let me ask him myself?
    But last time I sent something to mike@hallsofmirrors.com, my ipad crashed from all the mail from Nigeria.

    Oh. Meet him at the park about 3:30 over by the waterfountain.
    What if it’s crowded, how am I gonna tell it’s him?
    He’ll be in the clown suit? Got it.

    James Bannerman on Molhler’s Symbolism (1847):

    Möhler is by far the ablest of the modern defender of the Church of Rome. His work is an admirable specimen of what can be done by a thoroughly efficient and dextrous controversialist in the way of omission, modification, plausible explanation and defence, to maintain the cause of the papacy. To anyone wishing an excuse for going over to Rome, this is a book to be strongly recommended.

    Church of Christ, II:431, 1869, rpt. 1974, BoT.

  29. Bob S said,

    December 6, 2012 at 2:17 am

    25 Dennis,
    I didn’t ask you how we know who is a false Christian. I asked you how we know a false Christ from the true one.

    You then say your faith isn’t a blind one. But to take a clue from Mr. Liccione, we’re not interested in opinions. What does your church say infallibly on the matter? And if your views aren’t in compliance, what are we to do then?

    As for the difficulty of being a Roman Catholic, being a Christian is impossible.

    John 6:65  And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

    Thank you.

  30. December 6, 2012 at 6:18 am

    [...] And in comments over there, I said: [...]

  31. johnbugay said,

    December 6, 2012 at 6:22 am

    Please stay tuned:

    http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-roman-catholic-system.html

  32. Dennis said,

    December 6, 2012 at 6:02 pm

    29 Bob,

    I didn’t ask you how we know who is a false Christian. I asked you how we know a false Christ from the true one.

    As a Christian, we are united to Christ and we are called to deliver Christ…to evangelize to the world. So, Christ is in us and we reflect His love to everyone so that they receive the love of God and can be converted. In essence, we are Christ to the world. A false christ (or christian) does not have that light. They don’t have Christ inside them and thus cannot deliver Christ to the world. In actuality, they mislead the elect and try to draw them away from Christ per Matthew 24. A true Christian needs to be weary for false christs so that they are not fooled.

    A false christ would have an easy message. A message that does not have the message of Christ. A message of easy salvation.

    You then say your faith isn’t a blind one. But to take a clue from Mr. Liccione, we’re not interested in opinions. What does your church say infallibly on the matter? And if your views aren’t in compliance, what are we to do then?

    OK. Well, infallibly in LG 8, the Church says this—which is my point exactly (emphasis mine):

    8. Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation (9*) through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element.(10*) For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.(73) (11*)
    This is the one Church of Christ which in the Creed is professed as one, holy, catholic and apostolic, (12*) which our Saviour, after His Resurrection, commissioned Peter to shepherd,(74) and him and the other apostles to extend and direct with authority,(75) which He erected for all ages as “the pillar and mainstay of the truth”.(76) This Church constituted and organized in the world as a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, which is governed by the successor of Peter and by the Bishops in communion with him,(13*) although many elements of sanctification and of truth are found outside of its visible structure. These elements, as gifts belonging to the Church of Christ, are forces impelling toward catholic unity.

    As for the difficulty of being a Roman Catholic, being a Christian is impossible.

    John 6:65 And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father.

    Well, first off, it’s not impossible. To be a Christian is to follow Christ. To love Him and seek His will and above your own. This is not impossible. Actually, Scripture tells us VERY SPECIFICALLY that this is not particularly difficult: For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome (1 John 5:3)

    Secondly, your passage from John 6:65 is taken COMPLETELY OUT OF CONTEXT as what Christ is saying is that you must eat His flesh to have eternal life. As Catholics, we EAT HIS FLESH and hope for the promise of eternal life. But that’s not all it says, it says earlier in verse 45 that Everyone who listens to my Father and learns from him comes to me.

    So, per John, in order to come to Jesus Christ, you must:

    1. Listen to the Father and learn from Him. (v.45).
    2. Believe (v. 47)
    3. Eat the living bread which is the flesh of Christ (v. 51)

    This is straight up Catholic teaching.

  33. Brad B said,

    December 6, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    Two noted exegetes were discussing what God said. Both appealed to scripture, neither appealed to another authority. One misused the scriptures, the other answered with scripture, no further appeal to authority needed.

    “Mat 4:2 And after He had fasted forty days and forty nights, He then became hungry.
    Mat 4:3 And the tempter came and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”
    Mat 4:4 But He answered and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’”
    Mat 4:5 Then the devil took Him into the holy city and had Him stand on the pinnacle of the temple,
    Mat 4:6 and said to Him, “If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down; for it is written, ‘HE WILL COMMAND HIS ANGELS CONCERNING YOU’; and ‘ON their HANDS THEY WILL BEAR YOU UP, SO THAT YOU WILL NOT STRIKE YOUR FOOT AGAINST A STONE.’”
    Mat 4:7 Jesus said to him, ” On the other hand, it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.’”
    Mat 4:8 Again, the devil took Him o a very high mountain and [showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory;
    Mat 4:9 and he said to Him, “All these things I will give You, if You fall down and worship me.”
    Mat 4:10 Then Jesus said to him, “Go, Satan! For it is written, ‘YOU SHALL WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, AND SERVE HIM ONLY.’”

    The scriptures cannot contradict, the analogy of faith via sola scriptura.

    I wonder, why is this model not good enough?

  34. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm

    Richard (re: 18),

    Sorry, I posted this yesterday but apparently it got lost in e-never never land. Anyway….

    Well my take is that once the apostles have all died out the epistemological hole that Liccione et al are worried about is unavoidable. I.e. it’s opinion from there on out. Of course its normed by scripture but it is your opinion of scripture.

    You are using “opinion” in a different way than I was in my post you responded to. But I think I hear what you are saying and I agree with you – there is always some interpretive framework we bring to the table since we can no longer go right to the source as the Apostles could.

    The philosophically orientated Catholics, like those at CTC, make a distinction between 1) the subjective matter of determining which ecclesiastical entity is the one that Christ founded and 2) the objective matter of allowing the Roman Catholic Magisterium to speak on doctrinal matters. Concerning the later, the RC’s believe they have a teaching authority which can speak infallibly on doctrinal matters, at least on those issues which the RCC has defined as being of a de fide or similar level of certainty. In effect they have access to Jesus because they have access to the successors of the Church that Jesus founded. As you know, for a whole host of reasons, the theory here does not get anywhere close to reality and there is from all I can see every bit as much diversity of belief in Catholicism as there is in Protestantism, but for the small group of conservatives who consistently hold to the theory, there is an objective way to consistently differentiate between revelation and opinion.

    The first matter I mention above, that of determining the nature of the Church that Christ founded, is one in which Catholics are sometimes a little more open to arguments which could in theory falsify their system. It is here where there is a distinct amount of interpretation that comes to bear as the interested inquirer starts to ask what the nature of the Church is and how he can determine what the true Church looks like. Unfortunately, for most of the conservatives, the sole criteria ends up being Apostolic succession. But given this, there seems to me to be two lines of questioning that could be helpful. The first is whether the current Bishop of Rome is really a successor of Peter (ask John B to comment here), and the second is whether there are other factors besides Apostolic succession which should be brought to bear on the question.

    All very interesting stuff….

  35. Dennis said,

    December 6, 2012 at 11:22 pm

    33 Brad,

    I wonder, why is this model not good enough?

    Your example exactly shows why this model is not good enough.

    One misused the scriptures, the other answered with scripture

    Satan was trying to use the Scriptures to draw Christ to kill Himself. He was tempting Jesus and was using/abusing Scripture by doing it. If anything, this shows that Scripture can be abused to one’s own end.

  36. Brad B said,

    December 6, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    “If anything, this shows that Scripture can be abused to one’s own end.”

    I dont think so Dennis. It is understood and not disputed that men and angels can and do misuse the scriptures, but the point is that Jesus used the scriptures to settle the dispute. He didn’t say “the high priest said…”, no He said your misuse of the scriptures is proven false because it also says…. The supreme wordsmith/spinmeister could not answer back, he was defeated by the word.

    Lest you say that Jesus was not the test case, the Bereans did the same thing, Paul taught from the scriptures, they went to the scriptures to see if those things be true, they didn’t run to the high priest or some cadre of Jewish high churchmen to confirm their reading.

  37. Dennis said,

    December 7, 2012 at 12:19 am

    Brad,

    Jesus didn’t need to appeal to the high priest as He is the authority. As a Catholic, I would believe the authority of Christ would reside in the Church because the Church is the Body of Christ and guards the teachings as taught by the Apostles. Obviously, we would disagree with this but using Scripture as authority can lead to two different understandings of the same text.

    the Bereans did the same thing, Paul taught from the scriptures, they went to the scriptures to see if those things be true

    I think my understanding of Acts 17 may differ from yours. Paul knows the Scriptures but is enlightened by Christ–and the other Apostles. So, it’s the revelation by Christ per Galatians 1:12 that illuminates the Scriptures for him. Then in Acts 17, he takes his knowledge of the Scriptures given to him by Jesus Christ and illuminates the Scriptures to the Bereans who were open to hearing the Christ’s teachings per v. 11 and then they compared them to Scriptures.

    So, we must do as the Bereans did and hear the teachings about Christ as taught by the Apostles and then compare them to the Scriptures per Acts 17. It’s not going to the Scriptures to learn the teachings of Christ and interpreting for ourselves.

  38. Brad B said,

    December 7, 2012 at 1:38 am

    Hi Dennis, I think you dismiss too easily, one thing you said:

    “and then they compared them to Scriptures. “

    cant be so easily dismiissed though.

    So, yes, you’ve said one thing aright, but it would be nice to finish the sentence…..to see if these things be so It’d be hard to miss that the Bereans confirmed that what the apostle Paul told them was true by checking up on Paul by the scriptures alone. Not by confirmation of the existing church heirarchy, no, by the scriptures without any help outside of reading ability and logical deduction.

    Here’s the reference:

    “Acts 17:10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews.
    Act 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
    Act 17:12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.

    They believed after confirming what was heard with what was written. These weren’t uneducated men as it regards the Jewish system, they were attenders of synagogue, had the scriptures at their disposal, and obviously didn’t appeal to a higher authority because in that day the higher authority was a synagogue of satan according to Jesus’ revelation through John.

    Who would they appeal to, the Pharisee’s who tithe a tenth of their mint and cummin, but miss the weightier matters? Those who coveted jealously the praise of men for their zeal in what turned out to be a twisting of the scriptures? These OT characters remind me of the current Roman church, sitting in judgement on the word of God to mens destruction by clouding and distorting the weightier matters by means of a work program. Training people to become more enslaved than they are themselves. No wonder reformation had to occur.

  39. Richard Cronin said,

    December 7, 2012 at 2:17 am

    Andrew

    Yes that’s a good summary. I suppose my difficulty is that despite the obvious (to me anyway) disconnect between the idea ( i mean who wouldnt want an infallible teaching authority??) and the reality, the idea is hard to argue against. From their point of view why would God give us over to an interpretative framework that has such a poor ability to hold the group together? Whilst you are right to say that for the most part people are not engaging at the level of philosophical debate that the CtC folks are i have heard the simple argument against protestantism- its splits so much who can tell what is true?- put to me increasingly frequently in the last few years.

  40. johnbugay said,

    December 7, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Paul Helm on Newman:

    ‘Of no doctrine whatever, which does not actually contradict what has been delivered, can it be peremptorily asserted that it is not in Scripture.’ That is, any proposition might be a part of the special revelation that is not explicitly contradicted by some proposition in the revelation. This is a very imprecise criterion. It would follow from it that since the proposition that Henry Ford revolutionized the production of cars is not explicitly contradicted by any proposition in Scripture it could be in Scripture. Surely we can ‘peremptorily assert that it could not?

    This is one of the roots of the issues between Rome and the rest of us.

    We say that Rome teaches things that are not in Scripture. Someone like Bryan Cross will deny that’s the case, because of this type of statement from Newman. The mere fact that Rome “teaches” something that does not “actually contradict” something in Scripture, means that we Protestants, to their way of thinking, cannot “peremptorally assert” that it is not in Scripture.

    Helm’s use of the Henry Ford statement is an excellent example of why this “note” cannot be operational in the real world.

    And yet this is foundational to the way that Roman Catholics (especially of the CTC variety) defend their doctrines. Unless the Roman Catholic Church can be shown to be actually contradicting itself, then any “apparent contradictions” are not real contradictions. This is the fundamental principle by which they operate. There is no limit upon what can be seen to be “divine revelation”. Especially not if “the Church” says it is “divine revelation”.

    The Epistemological Foundation for “The Roman Catholic System”

  41. Dennis said,

    December 7, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Brad,

    It really is interesting how we approach the same set of Scripture and come up with opposing viewpoints.

    I read this and come up with a different view.

    Acts 17 highlights two different groups of Greeks. The Thessalonians and the Bereans. Paul goes to each city and (presumably) preaches in each synagogue for three weeks entering “into discussions with them from the Scriptures” (Acts 17:2)

    So, what is the difference between the Thessalonians and the Bereans? Both were learned groups of Jews who knew the Scriptures. I believe the difference can be found in v.11, “These Jews were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica” and they received the word with all willingness. So, the Bereans were fair minded and received the word with all willingness and THEN they examined the Scriptures to determine that these things were so.

    So, the key difference between the Thessalonians and the Bereans—who both had Scripture–is a paradigm shift. The Bereans shifted their paradigm and were willingly able to accept Christ as their savior while the Thessalonians who also knew Scripture maintained their current paradigm and rejected Christ.

    These OT characters remind me of the current Roman church, sitting in judgement on the word of God to mens destruction by clouding and distorting the weightier matters by means of a work program. Training people to become more enslaved than they are themselves. No wonder reformation had to occur.

    All this shows me is that you truly don’t understand Catholicism.

  42. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    the simple argument against protestantism- its splits so much who can tell what is true?- put to me increasingly frequently in the last few years.

    Richard – The charge about splits is certainly true, but are the Catholics any better off? They don’t split when there is doctrinal disagreement so the Catholic Church worldwide has become a conglomeration of belief systems ever bit as diverse as Protestantism. The curious thing to me is that the Catholic converts find comfort in this formal unity. I suppose this hollow shell of unity better than no unity at all? I don’t know.

    On occasion I’ve challenged the Catholics to look at what the Scriptures have to say about the concept of unity. When the Bible speaks to the matter of unity, and specific cases where unity is lacking, the focus is generally on unity of belief rather than formal administrative unity. Again curiously, this point seems to have little resonance with the Catholics. You would think that those who affirm basic Christian principles (i.e. Trinity, deity of Christ) would not affirm unity with those who deny these principles. But there you have it….

  43. Christopher Zodrow said,

    December 7, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    The RC church is built on the dichotomy of Nature and Grace. This is the primary distinction in my mind. However, this same ground motive is present in much of protestantism.
    http://www.xristopher.com/archives/738

  44. Brad B said,

    December 7, 2012 at 9:11 pm

    Hi Dennis, since the only thing I am making a point about is not being disputed by your reading of Acts 17:11 specifically that the Bereans read the scriptures concerned Pauls teaching, I dont see any reason to try to reason the other points we drastically differ on. The only point I have been trying to make seems to be the only point you dont want to comment on. I really couldn’t care less if you think Paul’s teaching was first, they still didn’t go consult anyone else, or a council, or priest, or prophet, etc… to see if what Paul taught was true, they went to the scriptures after, or in other words as the final rule.

  45. Dozie said,

    December 7, 2012 at 9:21 pm

    “I really couldn’t care less if you think Paul’s teaching was first, they still didn’t go consult anyone else, or a council, or priest, or prophet, etc… to see if what Paul taught was true, they went to the scriptures after, or in other words as the final rule”.

    You seem to forget that the Bereans had the scriptures all along and did not make sense of it until Paul explained it to them. Therefore, your scriptures “as the final rule” was completely meaningless to the Bereans – they needed a teacher and only then were they able to make the proper connection from what told them to the rest of the scriptures. It never occured to the Bereans that the scriptures were the final rule otherwise they would have had no need for Paul or anyone else.

  46. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 7, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    So, what is the difference between the Thessalonians and the Bereans? Both were learned groups of Jews who knew the Scriptures. I believe the difference can be found in v.11, “These Jews were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica” and they received the word with all willingness. So, the Bereans were fair minded and received the word with all willingness and THEN they examined the Scriptures to determine that these things were so.

    Dennis (41) – I don’t understand your point here – how could they have received the word willingly if they did not yet know “that these things were true.” If they had received what Paul was saying without knowing whether it was true or not, then they would not have been very intelligent people, no? I note that you did not close the quote from Acts 17 above – perhaps you should have extended it a little further to include the fact that the Bereans were investigating the Scripture “daily.” The searching Scripture was a continual thing (rather than an after the fact thing) and they were doing this continually to determine if what Paul was saying was indeed true.

    Dozie (44) – I don’t think anyone is debating the fact that we need a teacher. And in the Apostolic times you could go straight to someone who had direct revelation to God. But after the Apostles, who did you go to? Was it a centralized authority in Rome? As long as we are looking at what Scriptures have to say about the matter, what do they say about the authority we should appeal to?

  47. Dennis said,

    December 7, 2012 at 11:11 pm

    Andrew,

    If they had received what Paul was saying without knowing whether it was true or not, then they would not have been very intelligent people, no?

    It’s not about intelligence. It’s about being “fair minded.” Luke is comparing the Bereans vs the Thessalonians in this passage. The Thessalonians (many of them) rejected what Paul taught after three weeks of “discussions from the Scriptures” per v. 2. The Bereans, being fair minded received the words of Paul with all willingness and examined the Scriptures daily to verify that these things were so (i.e. “that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead” per v. 3).

    The searching Scripture was a continual thing (rather than an after the fact thing) and they were doing this continually to determine if what Paul was saying was indeed true.

    That’s one way of looking at it. I’m thinking that Luke is explaining that they examined the Scriptures daily during the three weeks that Paul was in Berea discussing Scriptures–assuming he followed “his usual custom” per v. 2. It’s likely and believable that the Bereans were studying the Scriptures daily before and after Paul came.

    My point is that this isn’t a verse about “Sola Scriptura” but rather a study between the Thessalonians and the Bereans. Both of whom discussed the Scriptures with Paul and heard his teachings but only one group believed.

  48. Ron said,

    December 8, 2012 at 12:07 am

    the simple argument against protestantism- its splits so much who can tell what is true?- put to me increasingly frequently in the last few years.

    That statement is most sad, yet so telling. It presupposes that disagreements among sinners can in some way conceal the truth of Christ from those who sincerely seek him by grace. It also implies that truth can be more readily acquired by looking to a source that claims to pronounce with utmost clarity Christian doctrine – yet while denying the lucidity of the original source from which this ecclesiastical magisterium supposedly derives its doctrine and authority. The implication is that God in his word is not as clear as those who would speak on his behalf. But what if those who claim infallibility are deluded, if not liars?

    To find solace in a communion that demands such loyalty is neither wise nor available to one who seeks only God’s approval. It’s also a sure sign of manipulation and doctrinal infidelity to demand such submission for it is without precedence in redemptive history and contrary to the warnings given in Scripture.

    Regarding the splits within Protestant communions – they only present problems to those who look to man, not Scripture, to define truth. That’s simply poor procedure for one who fears standing before the Christ who said, “my sheep hear my voice. “ (Emphasis mine) At the end of the day, Roman Catholics are gambling out of fear. What’s terrifying is the stakes are so high.

    It’s easy to hate Rom and her false messengers with a holy hatred once one knows the Christ of Scripture savingly.

  49. Dozie said,

    December 8, 2012 at 12:24 am

    “I don’t think anyone is debating the fact that we need a teacher. And in the Apostolic times you could go straight to someone who had direct revelation to God. But after the Apostles, who did you go to??”

    So you would concede that the reference to the Bereans to support sola scriptura was a bad idea. If anything, the Berean story shows that christians have need of the guidance of a magistra. It was Paul who explained what was already in a scripture which in itself was incapable of ruling on anything until it was made alive by a teaching authority.

  50. Don said,

    December 8, 2012 at 2:03 am

    “…examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” Acts 17:11b.

    I can’t imagine how anyone can get this more backwardser than Dozie in #48. If this guy can’t read the passage and figure out that Paul’s teaching was confirmed by Scripture, then I don’t know if he can be helped.

  51. Brad B said,

    December 8, 2012 at 3:09 am

    The Berean example was not brought up to justify the Reformed doctrine of sola scriptura. The Berean account and the earlier example brought up of Jesus and Satan arguing by saying “it is written” were showing a pattern, and that pattern was not rare to Jesus during His ministry. None of the above appealed to some interpreter to ajudicate. You Roman Catholic apologists dont seem to want to admit that all of the New Testament characters including Jesus demonstrated a submission to the scriptures, appealed to the scriptures alone, and most overtly, showed no submission to the OT church, why? Might it be dare I say that the OT church needed reformation? I think so because men screw up, but the word of God doesn’t fail.

    In a way, I think Rons comment says this another way but more broadly:

    “To find solace in a communion that demands such loyalty is neither wise nor available to one who seeks only God’s approval. It’s also a sure sign of manipulation and doctrinal infidelity to demand such submission for it is without precedence in redemptive history and contrary to the warnings given in Scripture.”

  52. CD-Host said,

    December 8, 2012 at 8:19 am

    Ron @47 –

    Have you ever read the Christian religious literature from sects that disagree with you? These various sects have written quite often hundreds of thousands to tens of millions of pages of scriptural study, often have colleges and universities with people who have dedicated their lives to scriptural study, have a membership that by all external appearances takes great pains and lives through personal disadvantages to come into compliance with the scriptures. Do you really find it credible that they are faking it? That they don’t honestly believe the scriptures, and this is just a show they put on?

  53. Ron said,

    December 8, 2012 at 9:34 am

    CD-Host,

    Your appeal to what you subjectively believe constitutes dedication and sincerity is irrelevant to the question of whether one who sincerely seeks after Christ by grace can understand Scripture, in particular those things pertaining to salvation. Accordingly, I’m not terribly concerned in this regard with the “external appearances” of others but with whether my pursuit is prayerfully sincere as I compare Scripture with Scripture. Low and behold through that endeavor I have found fellowship with a multitude of others who profess the same doctrines and in doings so have renounced Romanism. Peter was blessed because flesh and blood had not revealed Christ to him but rather the Father in Heaven. Most Roman Catholics I know have never heard from God in this way but have merely heard some things about him, which is why they would sooner trust a communion that claims the truth rather than the Christ who is the truth.

    In the final analyses, nobody can speak to the sincerity of another’s pursuit, but one can know the sincerity of Christ when he says: his sheep hear his voice; they follow him; he gives them eternal life; and nobody will pluck them from his hand. That is why I also know that when Rome denies doctrines like perseverance of the saints that it is not Christ who is in error but Rome. That, my friend, is why I hate Romanism. It’s not that she’s often wrong, but rather her claim of infallibility while she errs is what I find so repugnant.

    So I hope you see, your statement is not only fallacious but it underscores my point.You are trusting your communion’s statements about salvation, which makes you a prime target for apostates if not cults.

  54. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 8, 2012 at 10:14 am

    Dozie (re: 48),

    I said:
    “I don’t think anyone is debating the fact that we need a teacher. And in the Apostolic times you could go straight to someone who had direct revelation to God. But after the Apostles, who did you go to?

    And you replied:
    So you would concede that the reference to the Bereans to support sola scriptura was a bad idea.

    Now why would you think that my statement above would necessitate the conclusion that an appeal to Acts 17 in support of SS is a bad idea? What about the idea that God has established a means to teach his people beyond the Apostolic age would cause us to throw out SS?

    So let me go back to my original question to you. We both agree that God has established some kind of mechanism for teaching His people. And my question to you is, given that we are discussing the scriptural basis for these matters, what exactly does Scripture have to say about the “teacher” that God has established to instruct His people? I think that’s a fairly straightforward question.

  55. December 8, 2012 at 4:22 pm

    Lane is a really gracious and patient host. The thread of argument that most have followed here has nothing to do with what he posted. Read it again you lump-heads!!

  56. Brad B said,

    December 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    In relation to Andrews #53, I dont belive that anyone here has said that the scriptures are so brute obvious that they cannot be misinterpreted, or more likely twisted. There are no brute facts to fallen men. Who is the apostle Paul speaking to here?

    “1Cr 2:12Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,

    1Cr 2:13 which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words.

    1Cr 2:14 But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.

    1Cr 2:15 But he who is spiritual appraises all things, yet he himself is appraised by no one.

    1Cr 2:16 For WHO HAS KNOWN THE MIND OF THE LORD, THAT HE WILL INSTRUCT HIM? But we have the mind of Christ.

    This again hearkens back to Rons comments in #47. His sheep hear His voice.

  57. CD-Host said,

    December 8, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    @Ron 53

    I think you are ducking the issue. Assume that A1, A2, A3… A100 all appear to be studying scripture sincerely and come up with theologies T1, T2… T100 respectively. T53, the theology of A53, happens to be your theology. Now you say that T53 is absolutely correct based on fellowship, and your personal prayers…. A29 makes similar claims. A11 can do stuff like snake handling so he seems to be able to demonstrate his close connection with God which lends credence to T11. A18 does mystical prayer and trancing for days at a time so if is all about prayer intensity well maybe T18. A77 doesn’t have the personal relationship but has way better scholarship and seems to know the bible better so maybe T77.

    ETC… You claim to be prayerfully engaged. I don’t know you personally but religions like Voodoo kick the living daylights out of conservative Presbyterians when it comes to the degree of prayer intensity. You claim I should listen to you because you’ve had a few religious feelings; they’ve had their body full on possessed by gods.

    Catholics most certainly have faith in the person of Jesus. You go into most any Catholic church on the planet and right up front you see a giant statue of Jesus crucified. That implies a certain level of focus that I think you are failing to acknowledge in your response.

    As for preservation of the saints… you know as well as I do there are counter arguments, multiple verses in Hebrews, Rev 3:2-5, Romans 11:22…. There are biblical arguments on both sides, this is well plowed ground and I don’t have anything original to say about it. What I will say though is someone who gives more weight to those verses could just as easily point to you and say you are ignoring these key passages. The fact that the reformed side is now a tiny fraction of all Protestants having lost the majority long ago to the Arminians, I think proves that the argument is at least not so clear cut that no one could hold the opposite position.

  58. Ron said,

    December 8, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    Assume that A1, A2, A3… A100 all appear to be studying scripture sincerely and come up with theologies T1, T2… T100 respectively. T53, the theology of A53, happens to be your theology. Now you say that T53 is absolutely correct based on fellowship, and your personal prayers…. A29 makes similar claims.

    CD-Host,

    The premise that the content of Scripture is knowable is not undermined by the premise that people “appear to be studying scripture sincerely.” Moreover, that people make competing claims about what Scripture teaches does not undermine the premise that the content of Scripture can be known apart from a system such as Roman Catholicism.

    You claim to be prayerfully engaged. I don’t know you personally but religions like Voodoo kick the living daylights out of conservative Presbyterians when it comes to the degree of prayer intensity. You claim I should listen to you because you’ve had a few religious feelings; they’ve had their body full on possessed by gods.

    I built no argument upon my prayer life. Rather, I pointed out to you that I’m not terribly concerned with the “external appearances” of others but with whether my pursuit of Scripture is prayerful. In doing so, I was informing you that I am concerned with what God in Scripture tells me to be concerned with in the pursuit of the knowledge of him and what he requires of me. Accordingly, I should be exercising myself unto the means of grace, such as prayer, and not place a high premium on the appearances of others, which you seem to value quite highly. I went on to point out that the supposed uniformity we find within Romanism is abundant among Protestants regarding their understanding of the gospel of grace.

    The fact that the reformed side is now a tiny fraction of all Protestants having lost the majority long ago to the Arminians, I think proves that the argument is at least not so clear cut that no one could hold the opposite position.

    Most Protestants believe in the P of TULIP but aside from the obvious, my point was that when Rome disagrees with Scripture as it does on that particular doctrine of perseverance, it’s under good regulation to side with Scripture.

  59. Dennis said,

    December 9, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Brad 51

    You Roman Catholic apologists dont seem to want to admit that all of the New Testament characters including Jesus demonstrated a submission to the scriptures, appealed to the scriptures alone, and most overtly, showed no submission to the OT church, why? Might it be dare I say that the OT church needed reformation? I think so because men screw up, but the word of God doesn’t fail.

    To Catholics, Scripture is very important. Scripture is held as important as the Body of Christ. Jesus however does NOT demonstrate a submission to Scriptures.

    Acts 17, as Dozie is pointing out, is showing us that Paul is the authority over the Scriptures. The Bereans–who study the Scriptures daily– don’t understand the Scriptures until Paul arrives.

    Per Luke 24:45, Jesus “opened the minds” of the apostles to the Scriptures. This opening of the mind is shown to be taught from person to person throughout Acts.

    In Acts 8, the Ethiopian does not understand the Scriptures until Philip explains it to him.

    So, the key to understanding the Scriptures is held by the Apostles and they are charged with sharing this understanding with the world.

    They guard this understanding and it’s this understanding that the Catholic Church protects.

    Thus, we cannot understand the Scriptures without the Apostolic teaching that was given to them by Christ.

    Scriptures shows that the Apostles hold the key to understanding Scripture per Luke 24:45 and that they are NOT in submission to the Scriptures as you believe.

  60. CD-Host said,

    December 9, 2012 at 11:06 pm

    @Ron 58

    I’d say that if people are studying scripture sincerely over extended periods of time and whole large groups are coming to varying conclusions that do not appear resolvable when they hear one another’s argument that actually yes, that is rather strong undermining evidence. Assertions to the contrary notwithstanding. In fact I’d go so far as I to say that’s the very best type of counter evidence, the ability to establish a result by infinitely repeatable experiment.

    Most Protestants believe in the P of TULIP but aside from the obvious, my point was that when Rome disagrees with Scripture as it does on that particular doctrine of perseverance, it’s under good regulation to side with Scripture.

    Pentecostals and Arminian Baptists are a huge majority of Protestants. Methodists and Lutherans aren’t small groups either. I’d imagine you run the numbers and it is 10:1 against. And all of them believe their view to be fully supported by scripture.

    Just to throw out an easy list:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conditional_preservation_of_the_saints#Scriptures_used_to_support_conditional_security

  61. Dozie said,

    December 10, 2012 at 12:10 am

    “And in the Apostolic times you could go straight to someone who had direct revelation to God. But after the Apostles, who did you go to?”

    This question would have been very funny if it was not supposed to be talking about a serious issue. What makes you think that in “Apostolic times you could go straight to someone who had direct revelation to God” but after Apostolic times God simply leaves you helpless or to your own self imagination of what God’s revelation is?

  62. Don said,

    December 10, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Dennis #59,

    Acts 17, as Dozie is pointing out, is showing us that Paul is the authority over the Scriptures. The Bereans–who study the Scriptures daily– don’t understand the Scriptures until Paul arrives.

    Have you ever actually read Acts 17 for yourself? This is a serious question, because it doesn’t seem like you have. Could you maybe provide verse references, or better yet quote a phrase or two, that supports this claim?

    To be fair and answer for myself first, my reading is that the Bereans were excited to hear what Paul preached (“received the word with all eagerness”) but wanted confirmation from the Scriptures (“examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”) before accepting Paul’s message (“Many of them therefore believed”).

    I am truly interested in hearing how you arrive at the opposite conclusion.

  63. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 4:42 am

    CD-Host,

    You can’t know that people are studying Scripture sincerely. Secondly, one pursues God only by grace. Accordingly, if God grants grace to pursue him with sincerity, then we should expect that at least those people who have received that grace will arrive at the same truth. True sincerity is a gift to which God is pleased to grant increase. Your task is to be numbered upon the faithful who look to God in the face of Scripture, not the appearances of men. In any case, you are showing yourself as one who has little confidence in God to speak clearly to you in his word; so you turn to a system that claims impeccability, which too is a highly disputed claim and one that is not deducible from Scripture nor adhered to by most. So, that which you turn to is not wise even according to your own strictures of weighing evidence based upon consensus and appearance. An additional irony is you seem to relegate the diligence of studying Scripture to others and then concern yourself with their appearance of sincerity. Poorly done, CD-Host… Poorly done indeed.

    At the end of the day, your mode of operation is simply that of an unbeliever. You don’t trust God and would sooner turn to those you guess are more reliable to tell you what to think. I only hope that the basis for your hope is not according to your creed but that somehow Christ has penetrated your heart and your lack of apparent trust in his promises contained in his word. I’ll pray for you now.

  64. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 10, 2012 at 8:29 am

    This question would have been very funny if it was not supposed to be talking about a serious issue. What makes you think that in “Apostolic times you could go straight to someone who had direct revelation to God” but after Apostolic times God simply leaves you helpless or to your own self imagination of what God’s revelation is?

    Dozie,

    I continue to ask you a very simple question, and you continue to evade it. Again to your point, God has not left us to figure things out on our own. He established a Church. And we find that Church described in Scripture. So tell me Dozie, once again, since we are discussing what the Scriptures have to say about the matter, what does Scripture have to say about that Church?

    Let me remind you where we started from. I originally responded to your point (#45) about what the Scripture had to say about the Bereans and the fact that they needed a teacher. And we Reformed agree, they needed a teacher. So again, what do the Scriptures say about this teacher? We don’t have any more Apostles, so what the Scripture have to say about the officers who replaced those Apostles?

    Asking you a simple question here my friend. If you don’t want to answer the question, fine, but don’t come back to me with the same point that I already answered.

  65. CD-Host said,

    December 10, 2012 at 9:28 am

    @Ron 63

    You can’t know that people are studying Scripture sincerely

    I certainly experience myself as doing so. I certainly see people who hold these views making all sorts of sacrifices based on their beliefs. In every way I would expect to be able to confirm their sincerity I can. Now in some nihilistic sense I can never know anything about anyone’s state of mind. But that cuts both ways, I don’t really know that you are sincere, I can only only see if you act in a way consistent with being sincere.

    Secondly, one pursues God only by grace. Accordingly, if God grants grace to pursue him with sincerity, then we should expect that at least those people who have received that grace will arrive at the same truth.

    Well we know that there are huge numbers of people who are pursuing him and arriving at many different view of the truth. So either:

    a) A very small fraction of those who think they are pursuing him sincerely are. That is grace is very rare even among Christians and has little bearing on how the Christian community is to construct itself. Going back to my old model if group A53 has grace and A1..A52,A54..A100 don’t then since A1..A52,A54..A100 will all think they have grace / sincerity, they think are honestly persuing the truth (even though they are wrong) we still have theologies T1..T100. It might help the people in group A53, but the people in A53 all agreed on T53 anyway.

    b) Your theory is just wrong. That opens up different possibilities like:
    b1) God is indifferent to doctrine (the liberal position)
    b2) God doesn’t grant people insight to come to the right conclusions regarding scripture but provides some other means. (the Catholic position).
    b3) All these apparent contradictions exist merely because we don’t have the right higher perspective on the truth (Buddhist position).

    But regardless of whether it is (a) or (b), adding grace to the mix does not fix the problem that experience shows rather clearly that scripture alone is not sufficient to create a robust orthodoxy.

  66. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 10:18 am

    CD-Host,

    I suspect that confusion such as yours can only be eradicated by prayer and fasting, not sound argumentation.

    Best of providence,

    Ron

  67. Dennis said,

    December 10, 2012 at 12:17 pm

    Don 62,

    Yes, I have read Acts 17. My explanation of my understanding can be found in Comments 37 and 41.

    Regarding the difference in our opposite conclusion, I think the reason is that you’re approaching from a paradigm of “Sola Scriptura” and I am not.

    To be fair and answer for myself first, my reading is that the Bereans were excited to hear what Paul preached (“received the word with all eagerness”) but wanted confirmation from the Scriptures (“examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so”) before accepting Paul’s message (“Many of them therefore believed”).

    I can agree with this understanding but I don’t think it delves deep enough into the understanding of Acts 17. If you stopped there, the conclusion you would come to is that the Bereans confirmed what Paul preached from the Scriptures and that was it. However, a deeper contemplation of the text would reveal more than that and would draw you to the same conclusion as I in that Paul is the authority over the Scriptures.

    Have you ever actually read Acts 17 for yourself? This is a serious question, because it doesn’t seem like you have. Could you maybe provide verse references, or better yet quote a phrase or two, that supports this claim?

    OK, please allow me to respond to your request with a question. When Paul left Berea, do you think they were still circumcising their young boys?

    To be fair to you, I will respond to that question.

    NO! They were not circumcising their young. These pious Jews who read Scripture every day and had been circumcising their young boys for generations would have stopped circumcising. Paul at some point during his visit would have said something to the effect of, “HEY! All that stuff you read in Genesis…it’s not relevant now…There’s this guy Peter in Jerusalem who told us we don’t have to. Circumcision avails for nothing!” So, by the authority of the Apostles, Paul would have told them to go ahead and ignore the Scriptures (and what they’ve been doing for generations) and stop circumcising their kids.

    Instead, these people would be baptized into Christ per Paul’s instruction. They would partake of the Eucharist. And they would follow Christ. Why? Because Paul told them to.

    For the Bereans, Paul and the apostles are now the authority. Not Scriptures.

  68. Don said,

    December 10, 2012 at 12:40 pm

    Dennis 67,
    I think your “deeper contemplation of the text” may be very close to “imagining things.” … No, I retract that. I know you are making stuff up. You are claiming that Paul would base his message on what Peter taught him, and that Paul would look to Peter as his authority. Instead, Galatians 2:6 is fairly explicit that Paul did not learn anything from Peter or James and did not base his message on their teaching. If you have a counterexample of an instance where Paul did in fact base his message on Peter, then please show me.
    I understand if your church’s theology demands that you think Paul was in some sort of submission to Peter, but please don’t claim that you can find that in Acts 17.

  69. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    For the Bereans, Paul and the apostles are now the authority. Not Scriptures.

    Don,

    When one steps up to the microphone as Dennis just did and states things like that unashamedly, you can simply rest your case. Your opponent begins and ends with the conclusion that Scripture is not his authority. Yet in his inconsistency he wants to defend that premise from Scripture. He’s not interested making arguments.

  70. Dennis said,

    December 10, 2012 at 1:46 pm

    Don,

    My reference regarding Paul and Peter is taken from Acts 15:1 -12.

  71. Dozie said,

    December 10, 2012 at 9:10 pm

    “We don’t have any more Apostles, so what the Scripture have to say about the officers who replaced those Apostles?”

    If you really do not know the answer to your question, then I am very glad you asked. The answer to your question can be found in Act 2:41. – “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers”. Nothing here about sola scriptura.

  72. Brad B said,

    December 10, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    Hi Ron, I’m appreciating your comments and observations. It must be frustrating to want to argue for a point and expect rationality in return but only get clumsy self defeating opinions. CD-Host, with all of his references and obvious effort to educate himself has seemed to have come to a conclusion whereby he’s eliminated everyone by trying to include everyone–and the thing is, he thinks the problem is with the scriptures. I agree with your #66 to him [eyes to see, ears to hear].

    In an attempt to aid an intern from my home church that is scheduled to have a debate by podcast [with a Roman apologist regarding sola scriptura] in a week or so, I found this posted by Ron in the “Not By Scripture Alone” topic, from back in 2011, it is found at #60. Worth a look with regards to this topic also.

    Also, thanks for your input Don, I’m not always able to respond consistently and you’ve argued as I would’ve like to have.

  73. Andrew McCallum said,

    December 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    If you really do not know the answer to your question, then I am very glad you asked. The answer to your question can be found in Act 2:41. – “And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers”. Nothing here about sola scriptura.

    So Dozie, just read through your reply above and ask yourself whether you have answered my question. I asked you what the Bible says about the officers of the Church (the “teachers”) that are described in Scripture. Your answer is to tell me, via Acts 2:41, that the successors of the Apostles continued in the Apostles teaching. Do you not see that you have evaded my question?

    There is a connection between the answer to my question and the matter of sola scriptura, but you have to be willing to answer the simple question I posed before I can continue. And apparently you are not willing to do that. So never mind…

  74. Ron said,

    December 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm

    Hi Brad,

    That post from 2011 I used later on my own site, found here.

  75. Don said,

    December 11, 2012 at 2:43 am

    Dennis 70,
    It’s not clear to me what Acts 15:1-12 is supposed to show regarding Paul’s preaching being dependent upon Peter. The text is clear that the assembly’s decision was not finalized after Peter’s testimony, but instead after Paul’s and Barnabas’. Actually that’s not completely true. If you had not conveniently stopped at verse 12, you would read that the decision was not finalized until it was confirmed by Scripture (this should sound familiar by now).

    Now, I suppose someone may somehow claim that, despite the straightforward narrative, the Apostles are confirming the quote from Amos rather than the other way around. But even so, the decision is handed down by James, not Peter. If the Apostles are the authority, then Peter and the rest of the church are in submission to James. You should substitute “James” in for “Peter” in comment #59.

  76. CD-Host said,

    December 11, 2012 at 7:59 am

    @70 and @75

    Let me just add in here. The doctrine that James gives in Acts 15 is the B’nei Noach laws, that is standard Pharisaic opinion of what rules and laws apply to gentiles. All James is saying is that becoming a Christian does not mean converting to Judaism. That Christianity will have a B’nei Noach flavor to it like 1st century Pharisaic Judaism did.

    Jubilees 7:20–28 would be the scriptural reference

    7:20 And in the twenty-eighth jubilee [1324-1372 A.M.] Noah began to enjoin upon his sons’ sons the ordinances and commandments, and all the judgments that he knew, and he exhorted his sons to observe righteousness, and to cover the shame of their flesh, and to bless their Creator, and honour father and mother, and love their neighbour, and guard their souls from fornication and uncleanness and all iniquity.
    7:21 For owing to these three things came the flood upon the earth, namely, owing to the fornication wherein the Watchers against the law of their ordinances went a whoring after the daughters of men, and took themselves wives of all which they chose: and they made the beginning of uncleanness.
    7:22 And they begat sons the Naphidim, and they were all unlike, and they devoured one another: and the Giants slew the Naphil, and the Naphil slew the Eljo, and the Eljo mankind, and one man another.
    7:23 And every one sold himself to work iniquity and to shed much blood, and the earth was filled with iniquity.
    7:24 And after this they sinned against the beasts and birds, and all that moves and walks on the earth: and much blood was shed on the earth, and every imagination and desire of men imagined vanity and evil continually.
    7:25 And the Lord destroyed everything from off the face of the earth; because of the wickedness of their deeds, and because of the blood which they had shed in the midst of the earth He destroyed everything.
    7:26 ‘And we were left, I and you, my sons, and everything that entered with us into the ark, and behold I see your works before me that ye do not walk in righteousness: for in the path of destruction ye have begun to walk, and ye are parting one from another, and are envious one of another, and (so it comes) that ye are not in harmony, my sons, each with his brother.
    7:27 For I see, and behold the demons have begun (their) seductions against you and against your children and now I fear on your behalf, that after my death ye will shed the blood of men upon the earth, and that ye, too, will be destroyed from the face of the earth.
    7:28 For whoso sheddeth man’s blood, and whoso eateth the blood of any flesh, shall all be destroyed from the earth.

    Though Genesis 9:1-17 is the underlying basis.

  77. Dennis said,

    December 11, 2012 at 6:12 pm

    Don,

    You are claiming that Paul would base his message on what Peter taught him, and that Paul would look to Peter as his authority. Instead, Galatians 2:6 is fairly explicit that Paul did not learn anything from Peter or James and did not base his message on their teaching. If you have a counterexample of an instance where Paul did in fact base his message on Peter, then please show me.

    Acts 15 shows that Paul went to Jerusalem to consult with the rest of the Apostles per Acts 15:2. Per verses 7-11, Peter speaks. So, my paraphrasing in comment 67 is not “making stuff up”, it’s straight out of Acts 15.

    I’m showing that in Acts 17, the Bereans would have looked to the Apostles for authority and not to Scripture. They would have depended on Paul’s understanding of Scripture and would have looked to him for direction.

    I’m not saying everything rested on Peter’s words. I’m just saying Peter said them. My point was not Petrine authority, it’s Apostolic authority.

  78. Brad B said,

    December 11, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    From Dennis’ #67:

    “Paul at some point during his visit would have said something to the effect of, “HEY! All that stuff you read in Genesis…it’s not relevant now…There’s this guy Peter in Jerusalem who told us we don’t have to. Circumcision avails for nothing!” So, by the authority of the Apostles, Paul would have told them to go ahead and ignore the Scriptures (and what they’ve been doing for generations) and stop circumcising their kids. “

    Your version does not fit the words of Acts 17. Your just not wanting to admit it makes you appear disingenuous. Here’s the plain reading, showing an order by use of the word “therefore”.

    “Act 17:11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so.
    Act 17:12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men.”

    It is plain, received the word with great eagerness , then, or even concurrently searched the scriptures daily, then found that these things were so, therefore many of them believed.

    All of your other creative “exegesis” while ignoring this simple scripture reference makes Don, I, and others consider your mind to be closed. Everything else you want to say is questionable with this approach, even if you make a valid point.

    You might want to say “kettle/black” about minds being closed, but it’s not, we are ready to look to the scriptures to prove that we should look to the magisterium, so, we listen to you Roman apologists and then examine the scriptues daily to see if it be true….., but it cant be found true by the scriptues, what should we do? We modern Bereans, just dont see your version proved, it remains an unfounded opinion. I guess we aren’t noble minded?

  79. Dennis said,

    December 11, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    Brad,

    I agree that the Bereans searched the scriptures daily then found that these things were so and therefore believed. I have no problem with that understanding.

    My point is simply that the Bereans had to hear the word from Paul and then study the Scriptures and that the authority shifted from Scriptures to Paul.

    I think I’ve stated what I think pretty clearly. You can call me close minded or whatever you care to.

    We modern Bereans, just dont see your version proved, it remains an unfounded opinion.

    As modern Bereans, did you really think what it was like for the Bereans? The radical shift in thinking that Paul presented?

    When Paul came and presented the words to them and after they studied Scripture, the next words out of their mouths would have been, “what do we do next?” And Paul would have said, “Repent and be baptized in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins…” or something to that effect. And they would be baptized.

    The Thessalonians heard Paul and they would have said something like, “that’s not found in Scripture” and “what do you mean we don’t have to circumcise anymore??? Scripture says so!” Then they rejected the Apostolic teaching and rioted.

    You can call me close minded. I’m trying to open yours.

  80. Brad B said,

    December 11, 2012 at 11:57 pm

    Hi Dennis, your imagined conversations are kinda far fetched. The “radical shift” context you offer is one that I dont buy, not because of a radical shift, but what the shift was all about. They would have been looking for a messiah, One had claimed it was He, but it was their expectation that the messiah would rescue Israel and this is why Paul explained that the Christ had to suffer. This is what they were checking up on, not what has passed away and what changes would be coming.

    The existing church/magisterium was telling those under them that Jesus was an imposter, because he’d have rescued Israel from Roman rule if He were the Christ, He would be their king now…this is the conversation taking place by Paul while, “proving that “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”, 17:3. Once they heard this they believed, giving proof that the Holy Spirit was involved having given them faith to believe, so the next step would follow naturally and without much resistance [accepting teaching on circumcision, Gentile inclusion, Sunday sabbath, eating practices, or other “radical shifts” all of which would be secondary to the primary revelation of a Suffering Servant being the Christ, the King of Israel. Of course, Paul would’ve commended them to check up on him again/continually as they would most likely prove his teaching on other things because he approved the pattern.

  81. Don said,

    December 12, 2012 at 1:30 am

    Dennis 77,

    I’m showing that in Acts 17, the Bereans would have looked to the Apostles for authority and not to Scripture. They would have depended on Paul’s understanding of Scripture and would have looked to him for direction.

    Sorry, no. This is only your claim. You’re not “showing” anything yet. You have not produced any evidence that the Bereans behaved this way. When asked for evidence, you claimed insight from some “deeper contemplation” and then apparently jumped a couple chapters away. If “[t]o Catholics, Scripture is very important,” (#59) then why can’t you just accept its straightforward interpretation, especially since you “can agree with this understanding” (#67)?

    I’m not saying everything rested on Peter’s words. I’m just saying Peter said them. My point was not Petrine authority, it’s Apostolic authority.

    You’re the one who brought up Peter and put him on Paul’s tongue. The Scriptures didn’t. I sure didn’t.

  82. Ron said,

    December 12, 2012 at 3:49 am

    My point is simply that the Bereans had to hear the word from Paul and then study the Scriptures and that the authority shifted from Scriptures to Paul.

    I can’t believe this discussion is even taking place. Dennis, that statement of yours is absurd.

    What happened with those words of Paul that became Scripture? Did they become less authoritative upon becoming Scripture? Think hard bout that Dennis.

    Paul’s word was to be tested against God’s word, just as Peter’s actions were to be tested against God’s word. In the case of the Judaizers, Peter’s actions were to be rejected and deemed misleading. Upon what authority would one be able to draw that conclusion if the authority shifted from Scripture to an apostle? If the authority behind Paul’s rebuke of Peter was Paul, then we’re left with an irreconcilable authoritative tie between apostles. If the authority was Peter’s, then we’d have the same irreconcilable dfference and the gospel is lost. Naturally, Paul’s rebuke only carried weight because it was in accordance with the gospel of grace that proceeded from the mouth of God, recorded for us in Scripture.

    In conclusion, Dennis cannot accept this until Scripture, the very word of God, becomes his authority. Once he does that, the popes and all the rest can be seen and judged for what they are. In God’s light shall we see light.

  83. Ron said,

    December 12, 2012 at 4:16 am

    The Thessalonians heard Paul and they would have said something like, “that’s not found in Scripture” and “what do you mean we don’t have to circumcise anymore??? Scripture says so!” Then they rejected the Apostolic teaching and rioted.

    Dennis,

    What you seem to be missing is that Paul delivered additional revelation, which did not contradict Scripture. It’s not as though Paul’s words became authoritative over Scripture. Rather, Paul delivering additional revelation was aimed in many cases to interpret Scripture and to be interpreted by Scripture. For instance, Paul must interpret James and James must interpret Paul. Galatians three interprets Genesis 17 etc. It doesn’t contradict it.

    Because Jesus fulfilled Scripture there was never a conflict between obeying new revelation and obeying Scripture.You make it sound as though the abrogation of circumcision violated Scripture. It didn’t. How could God’s word violate itself? In fact, Paul circumcised Timothy. The objection to circumcision was the perversion of the practice, by making a sacrament a magical conduit for salvation. (Sound familiar?) In the like manner, to no longer sacrifice in the temple was not contrary to Scripture since Christ fulfilled the blood of bulls and goats that could never take away sins. Again, Christ fulfilled Scripture.

    At the very least, how were the prophets received after the first five books? Were the prophets more authoritative than Moses?

    The problem you are having is that Scripture is not your authority. And until it becomes your sole authority, it’s no authority to you at all.

  84. Dennis said,

    December 12, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Ron,

    I agree that Jesus fulfilled Scripture. What I’m saying is that after that, they would listen to Paul and receive direction from him and their understanding of Scripture would be through Paul’s teaching.

    I will concede that maybe they could have continued circumcision as it’s unclear in Scripture but nevertheless, they still would receive direction from Paul.

    The authority would have shifted from Scripture to Paul because it would have had to. Their entire community would have changed. The celebration of the Eucharist and the baptisms. They would have got that from Paul and the importance of following the Jewish law would have been lessened because Christ would have fulfilled it.

    The problem you are having is that Scripture is not your authority. And until it becomes your sole authority, it’s no authority to you at all.

    Again, Scripture is very important. I read Scripture pretty regularly. However, I need to understand it through the Apostolic teaching. It’s not for me to freely interpret. I must read it through the eyes of the Church as the Church has the mind of Christ.

  85. Ron said,

    December 13, 2012 at 4:26 am

    It’s not for me to freely interpret. I must read it through the eyes of the Church as the Church has the mind of Christ.

    Hi Dennis,

    I don’t think you interacted with what I wrote, but rather than press the points I’ll try to bring closure to the matter. No need to respond to this. It’s just food for thought.

    1. On what final authority do you know that the church infallibly interprets Scripture?

    2. On what final authority do you know that the Roman communion is that church?

    a. If you say Christ, then you must mean Scripture.

    b. If you say the Roman communion, then you don’t mean Christ (the Word).

    From (a) If you mean Christ, therefore Scripture, then the authority has not shifted and you’ve contradicted yourself. If you say the Roman communion (b), then you are not basing the authority of your communion on anything other than its claims. I find that very dangerous.

    There is no either-or fallacy in play so please resist the temptation of thinking that your authority is both Scripture and Rome. You require Scripture to conform to your communion’s interpretation rather than allowing Scripture to judge your communion’s teachings.

    You’re any easy man to pray for, Dennis. I don’t see you as one who would lead others astray but one who has been led astray. So, I do apologize and ask your forgiveness for being as strong as I was with you.

    Unworthy but His,

    Ron

  86. Dennis said,

    December 13, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Ron,

    I haven’t had much time this week as I’m wrapping up for the year at work and have been working late which is the key reason I haven’t been giving a good thoughtful response to your questions. My apologies!

    1. On what final authority do you know that the church infallibly interprets Scripture?

    That’s like asking you, how do you know Scripture is infallible? It’s through faith!

    2. On what final authority do you know that the Roman communion is that church?

    a. If you say Christ, then you must mean Scripture.

    b. If you say the Roman communion, then you don’t mean Christ (the Word).

    You have this belief that Scripture is not a foundation of the Church. That cannot be more false. Scripture is a foundation of the Church. The Church has three pillars: Scripture, Tradition, and the Magisterium. All three are equally important.

    Scripture must be understood through the Apostolic Tradition guarded by the Magisterium. Christ handed the Apostles a specific teaching and the Scriptures are not free to be interpreted openly but rather through the Apostles’ teachings. So, as Paul taught the Bereans a specific teaching, we must know what that teaching is and read the Scriptures according to that teaching.

    The final authority of the Catholic Church is Christ as understood in Scriptures understood through the Apostolic Tradition guarded by the
    Magisterium.

    You’re any easy man to pray for, Dennis. I don’t see you as one who would lead others astray but one who has been led astray. So, I do apologize and ask your forgiveness for being as strong as I was with you.

    Ron, I forgive you! I forgive you for hating the Catholic Church. I forgive you for hating what you don’t understand and I will take all the prayers I can get! Thank you very much for the prayers. I ask that we both pray that we can mutually grow closer to Christ every day as that’s my prayer as well.

    Thanks again and Peace!

    Dennis

  87. Pete Holter said,

    December 14, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    I don’t have Father Barron’s book and haven’t read it. I doubt I’d disagree with him though if I was able to read his points (although I won’t be watching 95% of the movies he watches. Ha, ha.).

    Perhaps I should speak with more reservation. Monsignor Pope raised a legitimate concern (and I’m happy that he did!) about Father Barron earlier this week: http://blog.adw.org/2012/12/hurts-and-hopes-regarding-the-recent-debates-on-hell/

    I’ll try to borrow a copy of Catholicism from a friend this weekend, and see if I have anything helpful to contribute to the discussion.

    With love in Christ,
    Pete


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